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Increasing immunization, reducing child mortality in Haiti

May 2, 2016

Results from the Canadian International Immunization Initiative for Haiti

In Haiti, 1 in 14 children does not survive to their first birthday. A contributing factor is Haiti’s extremely low rates of immunization—some of the lowest in the world.

The Canadian International Immunization Initiative for Haiti aimed to improve vaccination rates. Researchers found that a number of factors increased coverage, including greater parental awareness, increasing resources to improve services, and involving religious and community leaders.

New strategies to increase vaccination

Local governments in Haiti are already applying the lessons from the research. For example, religious and community leaders are now part of a vaccination strategy in the North West. In addition, the Ministry of Health is working on a national cervical cancer prevention program that will lead to a pilot human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination program, a virus specifically targeted by this Initiative.

Research carried out under the Initiative specifically focused on four areas:

  • The causes of "immunization drop-out";
  • Strategies to control vaccine-preventable diseases;
  • Bringing vaccination to areas with low coverage; and
  • The potential​ benefits of the HPV vaccine in the Haitian context.

Haiti has much to gain from this type of research and from the new policies that are emerging as a result of the findings.

The Canadian International Immunization Initiative for Haiti (CIII2-Haiti) ran from 2008-2013. Each team was co-led by a Haitian researcher and decision-maker, and included international collaborators. The CIII2-Haiti program was modeled after phase two of the Canadian International Immunization Initiative (2003-2009).

CIII2-Haiti was part of the Global Health Research Initiative (GHRI). It was jointly funded by IDRC, Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Health Canada, and Global Affairs Canada.